SANTA FE – Three deer in southern New Mexico have tested positive for chronic wasting disease, bringing the total number of confirmed CWD-infected deer in the state to 15 since the first infected deer was discovered in 2002.

The Department received test results Wednesday from the state Veterinary Diagnostic Services laboratory in Albuquerque that two wild deer captured near the White Sands Missile Range headquarters east of Las Cruces had tested positive for chronic wasting disease. A third wild deer captured in the small community of Timberon in the southern Sacramento Mountains also tested positive for the disease.

The discoveries of the infected deer were part of the Department’s ongoing efforts to monitor the disease, which to date has been confined to the southern Sacramento Mountains southeast of Cloudcroft and areas surrounding the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces. Two wild elk from the southern Sacramento Mountains tested positive for the disease in December 2005.

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal neurological illness that afflicts deer, elk and moose. There is no evidence of CWD being transmitted to humans or livestock. The disease causes animals to become emaciated, display abnormal behavior and lose control of bodily functions. To date, it has been found in captive and wild deer, elk and moose in eight states and two Canadian provinces.

For more information about CWD in New Mexico and how hunters can assist in research and prevention, please visit the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Web site, www.wildlife.state.nm.us . More information about CWD also can be found on the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance site at www.cwd-info.org.